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Biblical Fasting:  What is it? 


Do you fast?  Have you ever fasted?  Do you understand the purpose of a fast?  Are you one of the people today who think fasting is completely unnecessary and that it provides no benefit?

As with every study I conduct:  I encourage you to get your own bible and study the matter for your self.  You need to know what the Bible says about fasting.

If you're like me, you cringe at the idea of a prolonged fast, because you realize how difficult it is to keep!  For many people a fast is when you lay down your head at night and get up to eat breakfast the next morning.  I hate to be a harbinger of bad news, but that is not a fast!

Fasting today is not popular and the idea of afflicting our flesh by abstaining from food is barbaric to many people today, yet the Word of God not only encourages us to fast, it assumes that a fast is a natural part of the Christian life!

Let's examine fasting according to the Bible and determine if it is for us today, what benefit it would be for us what it may accomplish for us (or in us). 


Food 

We all love it, some more than others, and we all need it to survive!  The bible actually talks about food and the uses of food.  It may surprise you to learn that God didn't give us food just for sustenance!

It is not an accident that God gave us such a wide variety of edible types of food along with  highly developed senses of taste!  God intended for us to find pleasure in eating!  As with other good gifts of God that have been given to us, food was given for us to enjoy. 

Ecclesiastes 2:24-25:  "There is nothing better for a man, [than] that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God.  For who can eat, or who else can hasten [hereunto], more than I?"

Ecclesiastes 5:18:  "Behold that which I have seen: it is]good and comely [for one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labour that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him: for it is his portion." 


Food, of course is also given to sustain daily life and to give us energy we need to do our work.  We would all die without it.  In Genesis 1:30 God gave all manner of plants to Adam and Eve to eat for food.  In Genesis chapter 9, after the great flood, God gave us animals to eat.  During the Mosaic system of law, we were given animals that were clean and unclean and given specific instruction by God as to which we could eat and which we could not eat.  In the New Testament, we have instruction by Paul that nothing is to be refused and nothing is unclean if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is sanctified with prayer.

1 Timothy 4:4  "For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:"

We can eat and enjoy our food.   


Food is also give to us for purposes of fellowship.   

Genesis 18:1-8 gives us one of the first examples of fellowship and food. All through the Old Testament the people of God came together for fellowship over food and God himself commanded that some of the sacrifices offered to Him at the temple were to be shared with others.

It is no coincidence that the Family meal time is a pleasure when it involves food, love, fellowship and discussion.  The family meal should be a focal point for conversation, communication, discussion and teaching in any household, and that's the way God intended it to be.  In too many homes today, tragically, the family meal is all but lost.  Deuteronomy 12:6-7 gives us an example of a communal meal in which the people of God came together to sit in fellowship and eat!

The Family of Christ rarely bread together anymore in true Christian fellowship.  When potluck dinners are served, there is more eating many times than there is fellowship!   There is one banquet that I am looking forward to and that is the one that I will finally have with Jesus (Revelation 19:9).  Food was made by God to be a gathering point for us to come together in fellowship!

Food also is a source of worship. We should be very conscious of the fact that food is a gift from God (Matthew 6:11 & 1 Timothy 4:3b-4). In fact, Paul says that every bit of food "should be received with thanksgiving" (1 Timothy 4:3). Hence, every meal becomes an occasion for thanksgiving. When we put food to our mouths at the beginning of the meal (Acts 27:35) and when we sit back in our chair with satisfaction (Deuteronomy 8:10), our natural reaction should be Godward gratitude. According to the Bible food was created to be a source of thanksgiving and worship.

The Bible tells us that food was given for four reasons. God has created food for the purpose of enjoyment, sustenance, fellowship, and worship. Yet God also has a place for fasting in our lives. But before we find out where that place is, let's see exactly what the Bible means when it talks about "fasting".

 

 

 

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